Bixby School Board hears public comments 1st time since sexual assault investigation began

Bixby Public Schools parent Elizabeth Rahal was the sole speaker during the public comments section at the school board meeting Thursday night. (KTUL)

BIXBY, Okla. (KTUL) -- Only one parent stepped up to the podium Thursday night at the first regularly-scheduled meeting of the Bixby School Board since the start of a sexual assault investigation involving the football team.

Thursday's meeting offered the first opportunity for public comment before the board, which has already met multiple times to discuss the investigation. According to the agenda, the time limit for public comment was 30 minutes and each speaker was to be given just three minutes.

Elizabeth Rahal, who has three children in Bixby Public Schools, was the only person in attendance who chose to address the board. She thanked them for the opportunity to speak and said she appreciates their willingness to do the job, but Rahal said throughout the sexual assault investigation she's been disheartened, frustrated and embarrassed by their inaction.

"You guys have spent 11 hours, give or take, behind closed doors over the space of two meetings in the last couple of weeks," Rahal said to the board. "And after 11 hours, knowing what's in an OSBI affidavit, have come out and said, 'we don't have enough information to do anything.' That disturbs me."

Rahal is an employee of Channel 8 but was not there representing the station. She said when she arrived she wasn't sure if she was going to speak.

"I am not here to make assumptions about what happened, about what you discussed in those meetings," Rahal said to the board. "I don't know whether the decision to do nothing was unanimous. I want to hope that at least one of you was back there fighting to protect my kids, to protect the student who has made these allegations. I know your job is hard, but I feel that your abject fear of doing the wrong thing has paralyzed you from being able to do the right thing."

Several football players are accused of sexually assaulting a teammate with a pool stick during a team gathering at the superintendent's home. Warrants have been served and cellphones and other electronic records have been seized by investigators with the Bixby Police Department, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and the District 12 District Attorney's Office.

Superintendent Kyle Wood, Athletic Director Jay Bittle, High School Principal Terry Adams and Head Football Coach Loren Montgomery are being investigated for failure to report child sexual abuse. According to an affidavit, school officials delayed reporting the alleged assault to police, hindering the investigation.

The school board has met several times in executive session to discuss the investigation, including during a seven-hour, closed-door meeting last week, but so far the board has not taken any action. After last week's meeting, they said they'd announce their decision next week.

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